Big Data

What Active Directory Means for Data Security 

Active Directory

Active Directory (AD) allows IT administrators in enterprises to identify, authenticate, and manage data, applications, and users in the company’s internal network. Proper implementation of AD security is essential to protect the company from unauthorized access. The number of cybersecurity attacks on enterprises is going up on a daily basis. In fact, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated in this day and age of greater global connectivity.

In this context, if your business depends on AD, there are a few essential points to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring data security. Let us look at why it is crucial to implement AD security properly.

1) Why should you secure your AD system?

Your AD system is the first line of defense when it comes to identifying and authorizing applications, users, and access throughout your organization. As a result, it is the first target for any malicious cyber attackers. If a hacker gets access to your AD system, they get access to all your user accounts, applications, databases, and other types of related information. Hence, an AD security breach can have a devastating impact on your business, especially if it is not caught early. 

2) What are common threats to AD security?

Since AD has been around for two decades, attackers have come up with multiple ways to carry out a cyberattack on AD systems. Let’s have a look at a few things to be aware of when it comes to AD security:

AD struggles when it comes to implementing security for remote users

AD was launched two decades ago, at a time when client-server architecture in an on-premise IT environment was widely used in companies globally. Today, with the advent of new technologies, platforms, and tools (such as Slack, G Suite, Zoom, AWS, etc.) on the cloud, using AD as an on-premise authentication and identity management tool doesn’t work. Furthermore, with growth in enterprise employees using cloud file-sharing services (such as Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.), enforcing security in AD becomes that much more challenging for IT administrators.

One way to get around such a potential security bottleneck is to use an AD group file sharing solution like that provided by Gladinet. Integration of such a solution in your IT environment will give your authorized stakeholders access to a secure file sharing service backed by authentication and identity management provided by AD. Customers, employees, and partners will be empowered to share folders and files from your company’s existing file servers deployed in your on-premise environment. Furthermore, files can be securely shared in the cloud without needing a VPN.

Insider Threats

The most common way that cyber attackers can circumvent your AD security is through insider threats. Examples are social engineering attacks, phishing attacks, and spear phishing. Such tactics succeed with users who aren’t that conscious about security. As a result, successful cyber attackers can use stolen credentials to gain access to your AD system and wreck havoc on your company’s critical data. 

AD System Vulnerabilities

AD uses Kerberos authentication that has many vulnerabilities like Silver Ticket, Golden Ticket, Pass the Hash, and Pass the Ticket. AD supports NTLM encryption, where security is subpar. Cyber attackers can also use brute force attacks to gain access to AD. All these system vulnerabilities are inherent in AD and offer cyber attackers a way to access critical data.

3) How do you protect yourself from data security issues in AD?

The first step is to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for your AD environment. In that plan, you should list all your hardware assets and their dependencies. That includes your OS, servers, network, etc. You should mandate regular backups of data from your servers. 

Furthermore, it is critical to store the backup in a separate location so that hackers and other cyber attackers don’t get the opportunity to access the backups. Access to these backups should be limited only to authorized users such as AD administrators. Following such a protocol will help reduce manipulation and cut down on human errors, leading to a loss of critical data.

In Summary

Data Security in your AD environment should be of critical importance in your overall IT strategy especially if your enterprise operates in a hybrid environment, i.e. involving both on-premise and cloud infrastructure. The points discussed above should give you a good place to start when it comes to implementing policies across your company.

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